Monday, June 21, 2010

A Message of Redemption and Mercy

I was a willing participant in an abusive relationship for many years. “Willing” because I stayed with no real effort to change it, and “participant” because I became just as abusive as the one I accused. I whined, I cried; I “just wanted it to stop.” I tried – constantly. To the point I was so obsessed, so very overcome, swallowed up by this relationship, it eclipsed all others – and I do mean all. My children suffered, my friendships suffered, but worst of all, my relationship with my Heavenly Father suffered.

Someone recently objected to the idea that “the victim” is in any way responsible. “When you’re so deep in it,” she said, “you can’t stop it. How can anybody say you are responsible?” Well, let me first point out that in most abusive relationships both people are victims. Sure, he hurt me, he took those things that meant the most to me and used them against me. He targeted my weaknesses and slowly opened them to gaping wounds. But I? I stayed because my competitive nature told me to win, to fix him at all costs.  My fear of "what others might think" (or maybe fear of eating my own words) kept me from surrender. The more I tried to change the way he treated me, the more he dug in and did it his own way; the more he dug in, the more I needed to control. He could never treat me the way I wanted; he wasn’t wired that way. He was completely incapable from the day we met, but I allowed other things to cloud my judgment, resulting in ten years or so of struggling to fit a square peg into a round hole.

Secondly, let me make this perfectly clear – ANYTIME you step outside the will of God, be prepared for disaster. You’re asking for it; you’re opening the door to it. God is a God of plan and purpose. With every curve ball we throw, with every snort and scoff, God still prevails. We can discount His precepts, we can downright defy His laws, but He will still accomplish what He wills – with or without us. And “without” is no longer a choice I am willing to make.

I choose instead to see this for what it is – a gift, only one of the gracious ways God turned a bad decision, my willful and sinful decision, into a message of redemption and mercy. He is the expert at creating unspeakable beauty from the ashes of the incinerated lives we leave behind when we choose to ignore His will. He didn’t have to change me, or rescue me, or even listen to my pleas for that matter, but He did. He didn’t have to leave me with painful memories and consequences that seem to materialize before my eyes each time I head in the wrong direction, but He loves me enough to discipline me. God used the painful outcome of my open disobedience to provide me a point of reference -- a way to gauge where I was, where I am, and where I need to be. I will never forget how deeply entrenched I was in wrongful thinking, thinking that led to despair and sin of which I never thought myself capable. Not only that, but He left me with a whole new way of life; a life in which I never have to be burdened by the things of this world again. But did He stop there? Oh, no. He gave me an earthly life full of new beginnings and love like I’ve never known.
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